Blog Post

Scotland's Great Walks

Happy National Walking Month!

With longer and (hopefully!) brighter days, May is the perfect month for walking.

To celebrate Living Streets’ 90th National Walking Month we’ve compiled a list of some of Scotland’s greatest walking routes. So, whether you’re looking for a short ramble or you’re planning a longer walking adventure, here's our pick of some of the best walks in Scotland. 

Walking in Edinburgh

Recommended by Edinburgh Central Youth Hostel Manager Janet - “The Water of Leith Walkway is my favourite place to walk!”

The Water of Leith is Edinburgh’s hidden natural asset and the people of the capital have, for centuries, had close links with the city’s river. The walkway footpath runs along the river for 12.25 miles (19.6km), passing Dean Village, the Royal Botanic Garden and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

Photo by Bryce Morrison

The river is home to a wide diversity of plants and animals - from wild garlic and orchids, to jumping brown trout, otters and 80 varieties of birds like herons and kingfishers. The Water of Leith Walkway makes for a delightful afternoon’s stroll, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. If you want to discover a different part of Edinburgh then we suggest you try out this peaceful river walk!  

Perfect for: Family walks, couples, walking with friends

West Highland Way – Milngavie to Fort William

Scotland’s first long distance route opened in the 1980’s – it starts just outside Glasgow in the town of Milngavie and finishes in sight of the UK’s highest mountain Ben Nevis in Fort William. If you’re walking all of it then you’ve got plenty of ground to cover, with 96 miles (154km) before you!

Photo by Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority

This famous walk is one of Scotland’s most popular and utilises many old pathways – from drovers’ roads to disused railway lines. It takes between 5 and 8 days to complete and is traditionally walked from south to north. You may choose to break up the route and complete it in sections, or decide to do the full distance in one go (with overnight stops of course!). Whatever way you plan to tackle it, you’re certain to take in amazing scenery along the way, from Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park with its miraculous mountain-scapes, to wonderful open moorlands like Rannoch Moor in the Highlands.

Rest your head at Rowardennan Youth Hostel by Loch Lomond (part of the 14 mile Drymen to Rowardennan section) along the way. Celebrate your finish at our 5* Glen Nevis Youth Hostel, which is just a couple of miles from the official West Highland Way finish in Fort William town centre.

Perfect for: Independent walkers, couples, walking with friends

Photo by Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority

Loch Ossian circuit from Corrour Station

The circuit of remote Loch Ossian can be done in a day from the railway station at Corrour, which was voted the most remote railway station in Britain in 2017. The 14.5km walk (9 miles) runs through some forests and also offers fantastic mountain views. Depending on your pace and fitness level, the walk normally takes between 4.5 and 5.5 hours, although some people prefer to run the Loch Ossian circuit. Find out more in this blog by Fiona Russell.

Situated in a very remote location, this walk is ideal for those seeking solitude. With little sign of modern life, you will see Scotland as most people did hundreds of years ago. Trains to Corrour run from Fort William and Glasgow.

Once you’ve done your walk check out The Station House Restaurant, recommended by Loch Ossian Youth Hostel Manager Jan who describes the food there as “a luxury dinner that doesn’t break the bank!”

Perfect for: Those that want to experience the wilderness of Scotland, independent walkers, couples, walking with friends

Photo by Fiona Russell

Craigellachie National Nature Reserve, Aviemore

This peaceful walk starts just behind Aviemore Youth Hostel and is ideal if you are looking for a stroll outside the town. There’s plenty of information about the natural heritage of the reserve in the hostel which also has a Scottish Natural Heritage visitor centre. There are four trails to explore within the reserve: Lochan Trail (0.7km); Woodland Trail (1 km); Buzzard Trail (1.8km); Viewpoint Trail (4.4km). Walk through lush woodland including silver birch trees and, if you’re lucky, you might even spot a peregrine falcon!    

Jonte is currently a Volunteer at Stirling Youth Hostel. He’s managed to explore some of Scotland’s walks and recommends Craigellachie:

“It is a lovely walk which will take about 1 and a half hours to the top and back. There‘s only one way so it’s really easy to find and access! There are also excellent views to Aviemore and Cairngorms National Park. Although there are some steeper sections the walk is still do-able for people at all ages.“

Perfect for: Family walks, couples, individuals, walking with friends

Photo by Jonte Helpertz

The Old Man of Hoy, Orkney

If you’re planning a trip to Orkney then you must take a walk to this iconic 450-foot sea stack. Follow the clear, coastal path uphill from Rackwick to see The Old Man of Hoy.

The walk to and from Orkney's most famous landmark is 5.7 miles (9.25km) and will take around 2.5 to 3 hours to complete. The track is rough and stony, and the walk is challenging - but it's definitely worth the effort. This is a great way to see Orkney offering spectacular views for that obligatory photo!

Perfect for: Family walks, couples, individuals, walking with friends

Check out our hostels on Orkney - choose from Kirkwall Youth Hostel, or stay at our affiliate hostels which include Rackwick and Birsay.

Photo by VisitScotland